Charity group hails ‘victory’ for village halls over hire fees

Littleport Village Hall

Littleport Village Hall - Credit: Archant

A Government ruling on licensing fees is being hailed as a victory for East Cambridgeshire’s network of village halls.

Littleport-based Cambridgeshire ACRE, a charity supporting rural villages, said that village hall committees had feared that Government proposals to set fees locally would lead to an increase in hire charges for community groups.

However, after listening to the views of volunteers who run the halls, the Home Office decided this week that fees will continue to be set nationally.

ACRE called the decision “a victory for village halls and community buildings”.

Deborah Clarke, from ACRE, said: “Licensing fees have been set centrally since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force. Village halls were rightly concerned by recent Home Office proposals to allow local councils to set the charges instead.

“They told us it would force them to put up the cost of hiring the halls, making it more expensive for the clubs, associations and communities who use them.

“We shared the letters and emails we received from village halls with the Home Office and are pleased we have been able to help these small charitable organisations by giving them a voice.”

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Cambridgeshire ACRE’s, Julie Weekes, added: “Village halls are at the heart of community life and are often the only place in the village for people to meet.

“Some halls are struggling to keep going and increased costs would only add to their difficulties. We’re very pleased that the Home Office has listened to the views of committee members and taken them on board.”